Hearkening to His Voice – Nehemiah 9:8

Hearkening to His Voice – Nehemiah 9:8

Genesis 22 describes the episode of the binding of Isaac. We are told that God commanded Abraham to bring his son as a burnt offering and how at the last minute he was told to refrain from killing his son. Then Abraham saw a ram which he offers to God instead of his son. After Abraham offered the ram he is told of all the blessings that he will merit because of this deed.

The fact that Abraham was not told about the blessings until after he brought the ram would imply that the offering of the ram was an integral part of this test. But verse 18 would seem to conflict with this conclusion. In verse 18 we learn that Abraham was blessed because he hearkened to God’s voice, but God never commanded him to bring that ram.

We learn from this that hearkening to God’s voice goes beyond the practical obedience to God’s directives. And it is through the offering of the ram that Abraham showed what it means to hearken to God’s voice.

If Abraham would have approached the situation of killing his son without a complete submission to God he would have never offered the ram. If Abraham would have seen his son as something that belongs to him and that God is trying to take from him then the minute he heard that he need not slaughter his son he would have turned and went with an attitude of relief. But this would not be hearkening to God’s voice.

Hearkening to God’s voice means recognizing that every iota of existence, including our own deepest desires, belong to God. By offering the ram, Abraham showed how his heart had yearned to fulfill the command of the Creator. Abraham showed that he saw the slaughtering of his son in obedience to God’s command as an opportunity to express the submission to God that was in his heart and when he could no longer slaughter his son, he expressed this submission in another way.

This teaches us that hearkening to God’s voice is all about complete and total submission to God. Hearkening to God’s voice is the understanding that we belong to God.

Our sages teach that while Abraham was about to slaughter his son, his heart was brimming with love for Isaac. Abraham did not hear in God’s command to bring his son as an offering a directive to become cruel. Abraham never abandoned his love for his son for an instant, because loving one’s children is part of being a servant of God. But Abraham recognized that he and his son, together with his love for his son, belong totally and completely to the Creator of all.

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Isaiah 58:7

Isaiah 58:7

An anti-Semite commented on this blog with the canard that Jews hate Jews. Please click on the following links to see a partial list of Jewish organizations that help Jews with no regard to affiliation or belief. This list is very limited and is but a tiny reflection of Jewish love for Jews.

http://jewish-links.yolasite.com/chesed-organizations.php

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=chesed%20organizations%20brooklyn&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEgQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hakhel.info%2FHakhelGemachList5773.pdf&ei=y_9MVPOmAoflsATOhIC4DQ&usg=AFQjCNFyFoltyWulgn8y0GAAyg-lTeEbBw

I would also take this opportunity to publicly commend Concerned Reader for posting the following comment in response to the false statements of the aforementioned anti-Semite.

http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/exonerating-the-sinless-another-open-letter-to-concerned-reader/#comment-15295

Thank You.

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Order out of Chaos

Order out of Chaos

The Bible describes the creation of the world as a rectification process. First there was darkness and emptiness. God then created light and separated it from darkness. The Bible describes how God gathered the waters so that there can be dry land and how the luminaries were placed in the heavens in their appropriate places.

The impression we get is that the original creation is disorderly and it is only with the order imposed by the Creator that life is possible.

There is an underlying message in the creation story. This story is giving us direction and guidance. The commandments of God were given to us so that we can live (Leviticus 18:5). When man rejected the order ordained by God and allowed chaos to reign in their own personal lives then the order ordained by God in creation also regressed and the flood waters destroyed them.

God chose Noah as the righteous foundation upon which to establish His new world (Proverbs 10;25). As a means to accomplish this goal, God gave Noah the detailed commandments of constructing an ark. This commandment gave Noah an added opportunity to bring his life in line with the order ordained by God. Noah’s obedience to the commandment elevated and sanctified him to the degree that God saved the world through Noah and God built the new world on the foundation of his obedience.

This serves as a lesson for our own personal lives. The appeal to move away from God’s commandment is an appeal to death and destruction, while the call to obey God’s command is a call to life. Obedience to God’s command is not only beneficial for us. Following God’s word elevates and sanctifies our surroundings. Obedience to God is participation in His creation, for after all, didn’t all of creation come into being in obedience to His word? (Psalm 148:5).

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Open Response to Charles

Charles

In response to your comment – http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/exonerating-the-sinless-ii/#comment-15142

You attempt to compare the books of the prophets to the writings of the followers of Jesus. The comparison is outrageous. The prophets were not part of a separate community. But in the eyes of the gospel writers – the sharpest distinction in the world was that which divided “believers” and “non-believers”.

Here is an excerpt from “Supplement to Contra Brown” that is relevant to your irrelevant comment.

The prophets wrote and spoke their rebuke as a rebuke to their own following, while the authors of the Christian scriptures wrote their invective as accusations against people outside the sphere of their following. The Jewish books of scripture were read as a chastisement to the people who considered the prophet’s words holy, while the books of the Christian scriptures are read until today, as character assassination of Jesus’ opponents, and as words of self-righteous reassurance to the “believers”. The Jewish prophets included themselves when they spoke of the sins of their nation (Exodus 16:28, Jeremiah 14:29, Isaiah 64:5, Psalm 106:6, Daniel 9:5, Ezra 9:6, Nehemiah 9:33). The authors of the Christian scriptures never saw themselves or their intended audience as a part of the group that they were maligning.

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Exonerating the “Sinless” II

Exonerating the “Sinless” II

Reason 1

In response to comment – http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/exonerating-the-sinless-another-open-letter-to-concerned-reader/#comment-15012

Concerned Reader

You still haven’t explained your double standard. Why is it that the Church Fathers, who were direct disciples of Paul, are not qualified to legitimize a method of interpretation, while the Qumran community, who was so many generations removed from the prophets, is qualified to legitimize a method of interpretation?

In any case, your attempt to exonerate John’s Jesus falls flat. You want to use the Qumran community to legitimize the hate-talk of the Christian Scriptures. (What else will you use them to legitimize?) Who told you that the Qumran community was righteous? Just because some Jews were engaged in hate-talk doesn’t mean that it is OK for Jews to talk like this about each other. These were evil people and their example does not make a behavior acceptable or righteous.

Furthermore, let us assume that amongst loving friends, harsh words of rebuke are tolerated, righteous and acceptable. But this would only make sense if in every other instance the speaker of these harsh words showed love and respect for the people he was rebuking. It would only be possible to justify such harsh speech if the targets of the rebuke recognized that the speaker was a man who sincerely respected them. But John’s Jesus is not such a man. You could speculate that he did respect them. But that would remain your own speculation.

Finally, your entire argument is based on the premise that the audience of the rebuke was Jewish and they would have taken the words as loving remonstration. But your premise has no basis in reality. Perhaps it is true that when Jesus uttered those words he was talking to Jews. But by the time the books were put in to writing the audience was no longer Jewish. The gentile community that canonized these books canonized a text whose central character demonizes their own theological opponents. It is this central character that this community worships and it is this central character that this community looks to as the epitome of righteousness.

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Pillars of Faith

Originally posted on 1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources:

Pillars of Faith

The Scripture uses various words to speak of the commandments of the Torah. One of the terms that is used to refer to the commandments is the word: “edut” = testimony. In a certain sense all of the commandments can be referred to as “edut” because they all testify to the basic truth that God is our Father and King and that we are His children and servants who received His Law through Moses. But certain specific commandments stand out in that they are witnesses to specific truths that serve as the bedrock of our faith.

The concept of an observance serving as a witness goes to the heart of the commandments. One of the underlying themes of the commandments is the sanctity that they infuse into our lives, and through us, into the world around us. Thinking of the concept that the commandment represents, or even…

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Exonerating the “Sinless” – another open letter to Concerned Reader

Exonerating the “Sinless” – another open letter to Concerned Reader

(in response to comment – http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-guilt-of-books/#comment-14742 )

Concerned Reader

So you stand by your accusation that my statement – “without Christianity the holocaust would not have happened” – is highly inflammatory and is based on mere speculation.

Let me go back to my parable (for the benefit of those who haven’t read my comment).

The institution has been pouring gasoline for one thousand and eight hundred years on a specific city. The city is saturated with gasoline. And then someone comes and lights a fire and the entire city goes up in flames.

And you still say that it is only speculation to say that without the gasoline pourers the city would not have burned.

The fact is that it is this gasoline (Christian hate) that fueled this particular fire. You want to speculate and say that had Jesus not been born then some other person would have inspired generations of gasoline pourers to target this city. Perhaps; but then admit that you are the one engaged in wild speculation.

In a more recent comment you reiterated your argument that the ones who lit the fire were not of the same institution as the gasoline pourers.

Your argument is irrelevant. The fire would never have burned as it did had the city not been so thoroughly saturated with gasoline. The lighters were very limited in the scope of their influence. The lighters only had a few years to preach and their preaching was limited to one country. The gasoline pourers had been pouring gasoline for centuries and their influence warped the moral compasses in every country in which the fire burned.

Your argument is also inaccurate. The philosophy of the lighters is a direct continuum from the institution of gasoline pourers as documented by many students of history. Furthermore, recognized members of the institution were involved in lighting the fire and not only in pouring gasoline (http://holocaustrevealed.org/Church/Vatican_Hiding.htm ).

Let us move on to another point that you raise in your comment. You argue that the Jesus of the Christian Scriptures was not preaching the hate that was later spewed from Church pulpits. According to you, Jesus was only accusing those who had already examined all of the necessary evidence that should make it obvious to them that he was the Messiah and still reject him. You contend that this would clearly exclude Jewish people who see no evidence that would make them believe the claims of Jesus.

Your argument fails for four different reasons.

You allow the most liberal reading of the Jewish Scriptures in order to justify your acceptance of the claims of the Christian Scriptures. You point to the texts of the Qumran community as examples of legitimate interpretation of the words of the Jewish prophets. Can you then explain to this audience why it is that the words of Jesus need to be read most literally? Why are the hateful Church Fathers not qualified to set an example in interpreting the text that they canonized? Why the double standard?

A second reason your argument fails is that you have ignored the passages in which Jesus speaks of the predisposition of those who reject him. John’s Jesus speaks of people who love darkness as opposed to those who would come to the light. This is not a judgment against an evil activity; this is a redefinition of certain people. These are not people who made a bad choice. Jesus is describing people who are incapable of choosing good. Your attempt to exonerate Jesus does not explain these sentiments.

The third reason your argument fails is that you assume that readers of the Christian Scriptures will recognize that one who has not yet seen the evidence for Jesus’ claims does not stand condemned by Jesus’ harsh words. But John’s Jesus tells his audience that the Jews already have all the evidence. According to John’s Jesus all one needs to do is believe in Moses and the prophets in order to discover the “truth” of Christianity. Since many Jews already read Moses and the prophets and still don’t accept the claims of the Church, so even according to your reading of Jesus they stand condemned by his accusations.

The fourth reason your argument fails is the simple fact that no evidence has ever been presented that would convince one to believe in the Messianic claims appended to Jesus.

Let me conclude by going back to my original statement: without Christianity the holocaust would not have occurred. It seems that you are offended by this statement. Allow me to word it differently (not that you presented any reason for me to reevaluate my statement). How about if I say that the hatred that burned in the hearts of so many Europeans toward the Jewish people was fueled and fed by the clergy of the various denominations of Christianity. This hatred was nurtured and cultivated for many dark centuries. And when the social and political climate allowed for it, this hatred was a major factor that contributed to the death of six million Jews.

Can you agree to that statement?

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